Hep­ner brought to Cairns to face court

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - Grace Ma­son

A FOR­MER Port Dou­glas man will front court this morn­ing af­ter he was ex­tra­dited back to Queens­land on drug traf­fick­ing charges.

Smil­ing and pulling faces, Leigh Hep­ner, 34, was es­corted through Cairns Air­port by of­fi­cers from the Far North drug squad yes­ter­day af­ter a Mel­bourne court granted his ex­tra­di­tion.

It is al­leged he and el­der sis­ter Jodi Hep­ner, 44, were key fig­ures in drug dis­tri­bu­tion through both the Port Dou­glas and Moss­man ar­eas for more than six months last year.

She has also been charged with traf­fick­ing and her case was men­tioned in Moss­man Mag­is­trates Court yes­ter­day, ad­journed un­til April 20.

The pair are among 16 peo­ple who have now been charged as part of Op­er­a­tion North Kim­ber­lite which tar­geted ice sup­ply through­out both Cairns and Port Dou­glas.

De­tec­tives seized drugs with a to­tal of $1.1 mil­lion when they closed the op­er­a­tion in Oc­to­ber last year, in­clud­ing methy­lam­phetamines, co­caine, ec­stasy, steroids, cannabis and LSD.

Far North drug squad Det Sen-Sgt Kevin Goan said Mr Hep­ner had left Queens­land last year be­fore they had made any ar­rests.

“He failed to re­turn ... and we is­sued a war­rant for his ar­rest and he was in­ter­cepted (in Vic­to­ria) on Sun­day af­ter­noon,” he said. His ex­tra­di­tion to Queens­land was granted in the Frankston Mag­is­trates Court on Tues­day and he is due to ap­pear in the Cairns Mag­is­trates Court to­day on one count of drug traf­fick­ing.

Po­lice al­lege he was sup­ply­ing drugs to var­i­ous peo­ple be­tween De­cem­ber, 2014 and July, 2015.

It is al­leged he was a middle man for Bun­ga­low man Paul Gra­ham, 34, who was iden­ti­fied as the prin­ci­pal tar­get of the drug op­er­a­tion.

Po­lice used phone in­ter­cepts and in­for­ma­tion from the pub­lic dur­ing the 11-month op­er­a­tion be­fore of­fi­cers from the drug squad, Tac­ti­cal Crime and the Cairns and Moss­man Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tion Branch com­bined to raid mul­ti­ple prop­er­ties in Oc­to­ber last year.

Do you have a news tip? Con­tact Editor Shane Ni­chols on 4099 8555 or shane. ni­chols@ news. com. au

Pic­ture: BRENDAN RADKE

Leigh Hep­ner, 34, is es­corted through Cairns Air­port by Queens­land Po­lice

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